Pomodoro and Bencher dead-heat in SA Derby
Report: South Africa, Saturday
Turffontein: SA Derby (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo only
PUNTERS were left on tenterhooks for almost 20 minutes after Pomodoro (Sean Tarry/Gavin Lerena) got up in the last stride to dead-heat with Royal Bencher (Alec Laird/Anton Marcus).
The pair bumped close to the line with Royal Bencher stumbling. The stipendiary stewards promptly lodged an objection on behalf of Royal Bencher's connections but their race review took an agonisingly long time before the result was allowed to stand.
Royal Bencher, an 11-1 chance, held a narrow lead over a furlong out but Lerena, winning his second SA Derby in five seasons, got a tremendous run out of 7-2 shot Pomodoro, to share the spoils and give Tarry his first success in the race. Brooks-Club (15-2) was a length back third.
Both dead-heaters are in the country's biggest race, the Vodacom Durban July, on July 7.
Also on Saturday
Turffontein: SA Nursery (Grade 1) 6f (1,160m),turf, 2yo
HAMDAM AL MAKTOUM had his first South African Grade 1 winner when Soft Falling Rain (Mike de Kock/Anton Marcus) made short work of the opposition in the SA Nursery.
The 13-10 favourite, winner of all his three previous starts, led from before halfway and stretched clear in the final furlong.
Marcus eased him before the line but he still finished four and a half lengths ahead of 15-2 shot Ziparana.
Turffontein: Computaform Sprint (Grade 1) 5f, turf, 3yo+
A NEW sprinting star emerged when 37-10 chance Shea Shea (Geoff Woodruff/Piere Strydom) blitzed the opposition, leading from the start and slamming 75-1 shot Magico by two and a quarter lengths with last year's runner-up What A Winter a length away third. Val De Ra, the 6-5 favourite, was in trouble two furlongs out and faded to finish last.
Strydom, winning this for the third time in five seasons, said: "He came out like a rocket but I was quite surprised to find myself in front. Val De Ra didn't run a place so there must be something wrong with her. However it all worked out perfectly for me."
This was the fourth Computaform Sprint win for former British amateur rider Woodruff, who said: "I picked Shea Shea as a miler but, when he didn't stay, I realised he could be a good sprinter. But he has not been an easy horse and he needed gelding. You can see the difference now.
"I guess we will have to go for the Golden Horse Casino Sprint at Scottsville next and I think he is good enough to race overseas. He works terribly well on sand and so maybe Meydan wouldn't be a bad place for him."
J J The Jet Plane also disappointed. He never looked dangerous and finished with only Val De Ra behind him.
Turffontein: President's Champion Challenge (Grade 1) 1m 2f, turf, 3yo+
IRISH-bred Europa Point (Mike de Kock/Anthony Delpech) made it nine wins from 13 starts when landing her second Grade 1 in 18 days. The 14-5 favourite was going by far the best early in the straight and Delpech sent her on a furlong and a half out to beat 12-1 chance Galanthus by a length with the latter's 45-1 stable companion Smanjemanje a nose away third.
Delpech said: "My boss is a genius. Igugu goes and I get this one! Thegood thing is that she is getting better and better. She had won her last five and I was hoping she could make it six. I knew she had a good turn of foot but at the end I was just praying for the line."
De Kock added: "This mare is gifted and she has a lot of ability. There may yet be an international campaign for her. There was never going to be any pace today and that suited her."